ISSUE

One of the barriers to completion many community college students face is not knowing what classes to take — and in what order to take them — to complete their degree or certificate. The path to their degree is often not clearly tied to a set curriculum. Instead, they can be left to piece their degree together with little guidance or direction.

As a result, students often accumulate far more credits than they need to earn a degree, increasing the total amount they spend on tuition and the time they spend in school instead of in the workforce.

SOLUTION

CCRC is using the grant funds to help Ohio community colleges put in place guided pathways and measure the impact of the reforms as they are being implemented.

Guided pathways reforms include:

  • Simplifying community college students' choices with clearer program maps
  • Setting progress milestones that can help determine whether a student is making necessary progress toward entering the career they are pursuing
  • Enacting a more proactive and intensive approach to student advising, helping students stay on track and accountable for their program goals

CCRC is evaluating how each of the 23 schools implements the reforms and seek to understand how they are working.

To see whether the reform is having its desired impact, CCRC will:

  • Assess the rate at which students achieve key performance indicators such as credits accumulated in one year, gateway math and English completion, persistence from the first term to the second, etc.
  • Assess the rate at which students pass courses in their field of interest in their first year (and whether students are entering a field of study and making progress toward it)
  • Use past data collected by the state of Ohio to estimate and model the effects of the reform on student program progression, degree completion and transfer success

As of November 2018, CCRC has determined that 20 Ohio colleges have now initiated large-scale pathways reforms. Building on this work, we made a second grant to CCRC designed to help Ohio’s two-year colleges work with employers, university partners and K-12 schools to improve student success by creating guided pathways that link directly to postsecondary credentials and employment opportunities throughout the state.

As a complement to this work, CCRC published “Building Guided Pathways to Community College Student Success: Promising Practices and Early Evidence from Tennessee,” which details how colleges in Tennessee are implementing guided pathways reforms at 13 community colleges.

QUESTIONS

Contact Senior Program Officer Sue Cui at scui@ascendiumeducation.org.